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Fearless Rick has been throwing money at horses for more than 50 years. He thinks he may have figured it out, but, as is well known, there's always another race...

Saratoga is currently running the Summer meet, July 13 through September 4. Racing takes place Wednesday through Sunday, dark Mondays and Tuesdays, except Monday, September 4, the final day of the meet. Travers Day is Saturday, August 26.

$2 win, $4 place, $6 show is the standard bet.

Best Bets for Saratoga/Del Mar, Saturday, July 22, 2023

Saratoga 4th Race: Looking for some value in this $25k claimer for non-winners of two races lifetime at a mile event, #8 Winning Connection may be able to run down the leaders in the stretch. The 3-year-old is taking a significant drop and there are no world-beaters in this bunch. With a win and three seconds at the distance, he deserves a good look at a solid price of 5-1 or better. Trevor McCarthy is still seeking his first win at the meet and maybe can get it here.

Saratoga 5th Race: Tough to bet against Irad Ortiz, who has 14 wins in 51 mounts, 15 2nds and 5 3rds (67% in the money), who gets a leg up on #1 Undervalued Asset in this 7-furlong allowance. Brother Jose rides #6 Huntress for Hire, a winner at the distance by six lengths last time out at Churchill Downs, May 5. Both Ortiz mounts are 3-year-olds, whereas #2 Cupid's Heart, is 4, has a win in his only try at the distance, may be the controlling speed, and is second off a layoff, whereas the #1 and #6 have been away two months. Flavian Prat, having a solid meet (36 6 5 7), rides for Bruce Levine, who's 2-for-2 so far.

Saratoga 9th Race: Will one of these 3yo fillies become the next Zenyatta or Goldikova? Winning this Grade 1 mile & 1/8 Coaching Club American Oaks would be a step in the right direction. Of the six runners, #2 Wet Paint has made the most money ($782K), but she was beaten by #5 Hoosier Philly last time out and the time before that, #4 Gambling Girl had her beaten by three lengths at the wire. Only #6 She's Lookin Lucky has a win at the distance, a seven-length victory on a sloppy track at Ellis Park June 29, but that was in a 100k optional claimer. Her only graded stakes run was a disaster, a 10th-place finish in the Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

#4 Gambling Girl has the best record at the distance: 3 seconds and a third in four tries, three of them graded stakes and a second in the Busanda 97k stakes at Aqueduct earlier this year. Lots to like with the Irad Ortiz / Todd Pletcher combo, but expect a short price.

Del Mar

Del Mar 2nd Race: A winner, breaking his maiden at this 6 1/2 furlong distance and at this track, #1 Spiritist gets the drop in class and step-up from apprentice Alsagoor to leading rider, J J Hernandez. The deep closer will probably have to pass most of these to get home in time, but two solid works since his last race (June 25) attest to fitness.

Del Mar 9th Race: The $200 Grade 2 San Clemente Stakes for three-year-old fillies will be run on turf at the usual one mile distance. A loaded field of 15 should provide an honest pace and plenty for jockeys to consider en route to the finish line. With as many as five horses gunning for the lead, the race flow sets up for closers like #8 Paris Secret, with Edwin Maldonado aboard for trainer Phil D'Amato, one of the shrewdest at his craft. This Bay filly broke its maiden in Ireland, and has a win, third and fourth-place finish in three US starts, all at Santa Anita and all stakes. Won the G3 Providencia and was third in the G3 Honeymoon. She's a good fit here with four works in three weeks.

How did we do?

Saratoga 4th Race: Turns out, #8 Winning Connection was just that, making an early three wide bid on #3 Husband Material mid-turn, took the lead, opened up four lengths in the stretch and held on for a half-length win over #2 Yono, with #5 Boys Code third. Paid 13.20 to win, 6.10 place, 4.90 show, the 2-4-6 bet paying $40.10, for a $28.10 profit.

Saratoga 5th Race: Irad Ortiz can be unbeatable at times, as he worked out a perfect trip on #1 Undervalued Asset for a 1/2-length win over #2 Cupid's Heart, the pick 9-2 odds. Worked out OK, paying 4.90 to place and 3.00 to show, for a gross $18.80, and $6.80 net profit, up $34.90 today.

Del Mar 2nd Race: #1 Spiritist never fired, finished last. Loss: $12, still up $22.90 today.

Saratoga 9th Race: #4 Gambling Girl could only muster 3rd in a short field and paid a mere $2.10 to show as the favorite. Loss: $5.70, Ahead $17.20 on the day.

Del Mar 9th Race: #8 Paris Secret ran ninth, never really involved. -$12 wagered, +$5.20 for the day. -$23.70 for seven days of racing, which, all things considered, isn't too bad. Taking Sunday off.

Best Bets for Saratoga, Friday, July 21, 2023

Special Note: It's been raining and the forecast is for more precipitation on Friday, so turf races will likely be washed off and run on durt, with many scratches. The following picks are dirt track only, figuring on the track conditon to be sloppy or muddy.

2nd Race: The pace is likely to be a hot one, though three of the six entries in this 6 furlong sprint appear to prefer stalking rather than leading. If able to handle the expected off-going, #1 Braganza fits the conditions and race flow and has won his last two races by a combined 14 lengths. Luis Saez (41: 6 6 6) rides for trainer Eddie Kenneally's first entry of the meet (22% in 2023).

4th Race: A sloppy track shouldn't be a problem for likely favorite, #3 Blazing Sevens, last seen running a tight second to National Treasure in the Preakness back on May 20. Wiht a win and a third place finish on sloppy tracks as a two-year old, Blazing Sevens also has a win and a third at Saratoga. With $895k in earnings from just seven starts - more than the rest of the field combined - this three-year-old should find its way to the winner's circle on this 1 1/8 mile trip. Flavian Prat, who's ridden the horse twice before, is on for trainer Chad Brown. With the small field of just five horses, the usual $12 bet will go $4 to win, $8 to place.

7th Race: Chad Brown has two horses in this seven-furlong event, though they are uncoupled, #6 and #9, as does Todd Pletcher, with #4 and #5. They'll all have to contend with the speed or stalking trip of #11 Create Trouble, who has two seconds on sloppy tracks and added Lasix in his last outing, coming off a 7-month layoff, losing by a neck in a mile MSW at Ellis Park, June 11. Tyler Gaffalione teams with Brendan Walsh, the same combo that brought home Whisper Not at 14-1 in Thursday's 9th race.

How did we do?

2nd Race: As expected, a three-way pace duel quickly devloped, but #1 Braganza was last out of the gate, got into contention on the turn 3-wide, but completley stopped at the top of the stretch and finished last. Very disappointing for the post time favorite. Loss of $12.

4th Race: The track did not come up sloppy, rated good, but that's no excuse for #3 Blazing Sevens, who raced three-wide throughout and finished a well-beaten third. Winner, $3 Scotland, had all the speed in the race and went wire-to-wire, chased home by long shot #5 Il Miracolo. Saratoga is known as the "graveyard of favorites," and that's proving very true today. Another $12 loss, down $24 on the day.

7th Race: Well, can't do any worse than all three picks off the board. In all honesty, I don't know why this horse, #11 Create Trouble, was bet down to 5-2, but he got caught 3-wide chasing #5 Abadin, Irad Ortiz's third straight win. #6 was second, #9 third. Create trouble finished a tiring 7th. Ouch, -$36 for the day and now down $28.90 for the meet. Try again Saturday.

I won't be playing any more horses coming in from Ellis Park. They've all run poorly.

Best Bets for Saratoga, Thursday, July 20, 2023

5th Race: #9 Rock Star Boy flashed good speed in his June 4 debut at Belmont Park in a similar spot (MSW), didn't fade in the stretch and stretches out a 1/2 furlong further to 5 1/2. Runner sports the highest Beyer figure in the bunch of nine sprinters (though five are first-timers) and retains the services of Trevor McCarthy, seeking his first win of the meet (only his third mount). Should be able to go the the lead or stalk from outside post.

7th Race: This one-mile turf test for NY state bred 3-yo and up is a $45k optional claimer for non-winners of two other than maiden, claimer, starter, the perfect spot for a Micheal Maker coupled entry of #1 Spirit of St. Louis (Irad Ortiz rides) and #1a Call Me Harry (Luis Saez). The veteran 1a can take care of business on the front end, setting up the stretch run for his 4-yo stablemate, who has two ins and a second in three lifetime starts. Will likely be short money, but both are capable of hitting the board.

9th Race: #5 James Aloysius is a good choice for this 1 1/16 run on turf, a $62k/N2X affair with a fat $156,000 purse for 3-yo and upward. The Danny Gargan 4-yo has hit the board in each of his five starts, all on turf at varying distances. Two wins, two seconds and a third place finish (last race, Cliff Hanger stakes, 102k) puts him in the mix of a very talented field. The horse has paired up a pair of 90 Beyers over his last two outings, a sign that he may be able to take a step forward. Joel Rosario gets aboard, morning line, 5-1.

How did we do?

5th Race: #9 Rock Star Boy raced three wide chasing a hot pace by #2 Uncle Eddie and #3 Crazy Mason, fading on the turn and falling well back. The result cost all of the bet, down $12 on the day.

7th Race: As expected, entrymates #1 Spirit of St. Louis and #1a Call Me Harry ran 1-2, heavily bet in all pools, but taking all of the place pool and 2/3s of the show ppol with #3 Agent Creed finishing third. Call Me Harry went right to the front, was never headed until mid-stretch when Spirit of St. Louis overtook him and won going away. It was not even close for second. The short price (off at 1-2 odds) yielded a return of $3.00, $2.90, and 2.10, for a total return of $15.10 and a $3.10 profit. Still down $8.90 on the day.

9th Race: Finding a seam in mid-stretch, #5 James Aloysius rallied into a good spot near the rail, but was overtaken deep stretch and ended up fourth (I really hate finishing 4th) and cost the whole $12 bet. Outside horses swept the boards. $0.50 TRIFECTA (11-10-12) paid $233.50. Down $20.90 on the day, now up just $7.10 for the meet (5 days). We'll get back in the groove Friday.

Best Bets for Saratoga, Wednesday, July 19, 2023

2nd Race: Not much from which to choose in this $40k maiden one mile event, but, #3 Happy Bob looks like the horse to beat. Most recently running third to impressive winner Talkin Pharoah, who won a starter allowance for fun on Saturday, Happy Bob hails from the Linda Rice barn, which claimed the horse out of the May 27th race and pops at a 27% rate on horses off the claim. Rice is off to a hot start at the meet, clicking at 38% winners. Jose Ortiz, tied with seven wins for the jockey lead with his brother Irad, takes the mount. Hopefully, the odds won't be too short on this runner.

5th Race: While likely favorite, #9 Excess Demand, looks to be the controlling speed in this one mile $16,000 claimer for non-winners of two races lifetime, the Chad Brown entrant broke his maiden for a mere $10,000, and then failed at todays distance when facing $50,000 NW2 claimers, so the drop is significant. Watch out for #7 Rock the Weekend, who raced on dirt for the first time June 10 and came up a winner in the maiden $12,500 event at Gulfstream. Since then the runner put in a bullet 4-furlong work (46.2) and should be able to stalk the pace and turn on the afterburners for a stretch run. Could be odds of 4-1 or better.

7th Race: This $45k optional claimer for NY state-breds at a mile on the turf could be the most competitive race of the day and offer solid betting opportunities. #6 Golden Rocket is coming off a layoff and a second place finish in the July 4 $116k Port Washington stake at Belmont. The 4-year-old has hit the board in seven of nine turf starts, one of which was a stakes for state-breeds on this very surface last August. Golden Rocket may be the horse for the course with Jose Gomez aboard and morning line odds of 5-1.

How did we do?

2nd Race: #3 Happy Bob could only manage third, behind #7 Memphis and favored (4-5) #2 Cloud Forest. With the three favorites in the money, the Show price was just $2.10, resulting in a loss of $5.70 on the standard 2-4-6 bet.

5th Race: Javier Castellano guided #7 Rock the Weekend to victory at odds of 4-1, paying 10.40 to win, 4.50 to place, and 3.00 to show. #2 Dee's Speedster was second, followed by #3 Run Smitty Run. 9-5 favorite, Excess Demand, finished off the board. The win netted a profit of $16.00 on the standard bet. Up $10.30 on the day with one more race to go.

7th Race: #6 Golden Rocket finished a close up fourth (2 lengths from winner). Lost $12, total for day, -$1.70; for the meet, +$28.00.

Best Bets for Saratoga, Sunday, July 16, 2023

Note: There was substantial rain overnight, (kind of a signature for Saratoga), so the track is listed as muddy (upgraded to GOOD as of 12:30 pm ET) and all turf events washed off except for the 9th, Grade 3 Quick Call Stakes, (yielding).

2nd Race : Seeking his first Saratoga win, apprentice jockey Jose Torres (5 mounts, 2 thirds at the meet) might find a way to the winner's circle in this NW2L mile test aboard #7 Yogi. The lightly-raced 4-yo is second off a layoff and has a win and 2 seconds at 7 furlongs and a mile. A lot will depend on the condition of the track and how the entrants react to it.

4th Race: Track conditions and the race set-up may offer a favorable spot for #7 Hereby in this non-winners of three lifetime event. The 5-yo shipper from Finger Lakes sports the best last-race Beyer in the field (70) and is running the third straight race at six furlongs. Should be able to close late on likely front-runners #1 Let Freedom Ring and #6 Ensign Parker. Katie Davis rides for trainer Bruce Brown at solid odds (ML: 6-1).

9th Race: The Grade 3 Quick Call Stakes marks the first graded stakes event for all 10 3-year-old entrants except for #10 Gaslight Dancer, who ran second last fall in the Grade 3 Futurity at Aqueduct and was sixth, by 3 3/4 lenghts in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf at a mile at Keenland. The Gaffalione mount may be compromised by the outside post and time off, though he did post a bullet work (59.3) on July 8. The choice goes to #3 Eye Witness, who's won three of four starts (2 stakes wins) and is on the third leg of his current form cycle. Jose Ortiz rides for Wesley Ward. Other contenders include the #1, #4, #9, and #10, setting up playable exotics.

How did we do?

2nd Race: Despite salking the leader all the way around the track, #7 Yogi, at 9-5, could never quite get to #3 Jolly Miss Jill (8-5), who led wire-to-wire and won going away. Yogi was a clear second and #1 Handle the Truth was far back in third, helping the show prices at 42-1. Results returned $3.00 to place and $2.60 to show., for a total of 13.80, and a $1.80 profit.

4th Race: A rainstorm turned the track to slop and #7 Hereby could never get to the speedballs, #6 (winner) and #1 (favorite, 2nd), and finished a well-beaten 4th. Out $12 for the race and up $1.80 overall, that's a wrap for today since #3 Eye Witness was scratched out of the 9th along with three others.

Personally, I am not a fan of off tracks. Give me fast and firm all day and I can handicap without having to consider changing track conditions.

Today's result: +$1.60; for the meet (3 days): +$29.70. I'll be back on Wednesday.

Best Bets for Saratoga, Saturday, July 15, 2023

2nd Race: Plenty of speed lined up in this six furlong starter allowance, but the fastest filly of them all and best-bred of the bunch looks to be #5 Talkin Pharoah, a $60,000 foal which sold at Kenneland auction for $260,000 and has hit the board in three of four starts. Jose Ortiz will ride for trainer Linda Rice, who is off to a fast start at the mid-summer meet. She is also third off a layoff and just broke her maiden in open company for $40,000. Morning line is 6-1, but may go off much lower than that. 3-1 would be an acceptable level.

5th Race: This first-level allowance for NY-breds is a solid field, but #8 Mariachi is second off a layoff, has hit the board in all three starts and has the outside position, which will put this colt on or near the lead from the get-go. Kendrick Caramouche, who won two races on Friday is an expert on speed horses and fits well here. Those wishing to go deep may want to box a trifecta, using 2-4-5-7-8, a combination that may produce a decent price.

9th Race: The Grade 3 Kelso Stakes sets up for closers, #2 Annapolis (Irad Ortiz), and #8 Casa Creed (Luis Saez) as #3 Mid Day Image (Geroux), #5 Big Everest (Rosario), and #6 Filo Di Arianna (Jose Ortiz) will be battling on the front end. Both the #2 and #8 have impressive resumes, but #2 Annapolis is coming off a two-month layoff, while Casa Creed last raced on June 10 (3rd a length in the Grade 1 Jaipur). Should be ready with a bullet work July 7 at a square price.

How did we do?

2nd Race: #5 Talkin Pharoah didn't disappoint, stalking a hot pace, took over at the 8th pole and won by three. #1 second, favorite, #2, third. Paid $8.00, $4.20, $2.40, the 2-4-6 bet returned $23.60 for profit of $11.60.

Just for fun, and feeling the number would be huge in this wide open event, I put a deuce to show on #10 Epic Miss Justice, with Joel Rosario aboard at 23-1. Well, he won the race with #3 (45-1) second and #2 (9-1) third. My $2 show bet paid $11.20, but the win and place were 48.80 and 19.00. How about these numbers:
$2.00 EXACTA (10-3) $1,653.00
$0.50 TRIFECTA (10-3-2) $5,651.25
$0.10 SUPERFECTA (10-3-2-11) $6,044.75

5th Race: Got another winner when #8 Mariachi went wire-to-wire battling with #1 Zeebear most of the way before pulling clear in the stretch for a 3 1/2-length win. Paid 5.60, 3.70, 3.00, so the $2-4-6 play returned $22 for a profit of $10. Total for the day now +$21.60. The suggested trifecta was the right idea, but would have cost money, since I didn't include the Linda Rice trainee, Zeebear. 8-1-7 50-cent trifecta returned $81.25. Not too shabby.
Total for the day now +$21.60

9th Race: Third winner on the day, #8 Casa Creed, got the jump on favored #2 Annapolis and surged to the lead top of stretch and finished a length to the good over her main rival. Paying 6.50, 2.90, 2.60, I grossed $20.10 for a profit of $8.10. For the day, 3-for-3, +$29.70, and for the first two days of the meet, (29.70-1.60) +$28.10.

Short prices, but can't knock success. Maybe I'll see you at Siro's, talk about tomorrow's races.

Fearless Rick's picks for Saratoga, Friday, July 14:

3rd Race: #1, Lifelovenlaughter looks to be in a prime spot, having run second in a similar spot on June 22nd at Belmont. Jockey Jose Ortiz rides for trainer Mike Trombetta.

5th Race: Freshened up for his first start since November, #3 Fuoco may be live for rider Flavian Prat in this lack-luster field of NY State-bred maidens at 5 1/2 furlongs on turf. Check the tote board for clues.

7th Race: Irad Ortiz is likely to be on the favorite with #3 No More Talk who appears well-spotted in this 6 furlong sprint.

How did we do?

3rd Race: Taken off the turf, run at a mile on dirt with only four horses (1, 2, 7, 8). #1, Lifelovenlaughter, our bet, battled with even money shot, #7, through 3/4 of a mile, opened up and pulled away entering the stretch. #2 came on for second as #7 faded.

#1, Lifelovenlaughter paid $5.40 to win, $2.90 to place. There was no show betting.
Result: Winner (had $4 win, $8 place). +$10.40.

5th Race: The pick, #3 Fuoco was scratched, so no wager.

7th Race: There was a little worry about this since the choice, #3 No More Talk, had never been on th Saratoga strip and is also a nine-year-old. The 7-5 favorite, he and Irad made a three-wide bid at the top of the stretch and was just about in front but hung and finished in a dead heat for fourth. It's why I don't like betting favorites. The winner, #2, paid $20 for the win, the second winner of the day for jockey Kendrick Caramouch.
Result: $12 loss, -$1.60 for the day. Guess I'll be drinking beer instead of scotch tonight, but we'll get 'em tomorrow.


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